Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Grace.
Mary, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story is one of life, death, and life-after-death. It’s about my spiritually transformative experiences and a mystical journey down a sacred path, which led to a second chance at life. It all started with the death of my mother in 2000. More specifically, two months after she passed; that’s when Mom came to visit me. She came in a dream to console me, hold me, and to tell me that everything was going to be all right.
This shocking realization, that my mother was still very much alive, and still a part of my life, was my first spiritual wake-up call. Before that night, eternal life and heaven were merely concepts to me. Subsequently, it became my new reality. After-death communication with spirits on the other side became my new norm.
At the same time, I was extremely sick with two incurable illnesses, lupus and epilepsy, which caused a hole in my heart. I was on twenty-four different medications and had five specialist doctors. I was tired all the time and needed ten hours of sleep each night. To top it off, I was also addicted to drugs and alcohol from the age of fourteen. Despite all of this, I managed a career in human services as a mental health professional. As my illnesses progressed, however, I had to cut my hours to part-time.
On November 1, 2001, All Saints Day, I found myself spiraling down into a pit of depression that I could not escape. I was alive, but not living; dying, but not dead. I no longer had the will to live and just wanted to be in heaven with Mom. I could take it no longer and begged God to give me a sign that He hadn’t abandoned me. I cried out for mercy and pleaded for Him to make up His mind; heal me or take me home to heaven.
The next day, All Souls Day, my prayers were answered; I died. I had what is known as a near-death experience. I felt an electrical shock surge through my body. It was as if the proverbial lightning bolt of God had struck me (I later learned that it was cardiac arrest). The next thing I knew, I felt myself floating up towards the brightest, most beautiful light I had ever seen. Upon reaching the brilliant site I was immersed in a tremendous force of Love that permeated every cell in my body. This level of devotion was not of the world I had come from; it was a million times more intense.
While in this light, a sense of peace and tranquility settled within my mind and I realized that I was completely free; all bodily cares seemed to vanish. I relaxed into a total state of surrender as I was being taken care of and assured once again, that everything was going to be all right. Now was the time for me to rest and heal in the light and love that saturated my soul. Feeling cradled in the arms of this most magnificent Being, I recognized my long-forgotten Creator, my Father in heaven – I was home.
This was my second wake-up call. It was the second time I came face to face with eternal life, this time it was my own. That experience changed my world completely and I was never the same afterward. Through my new awareness, I could see the light and love of God in all people. In addition, an overwhelming sense of connection to everything in the universe became a part of my expanded consciousness.
In the days and weeks that followed my near-death experience, I noticed significant changes in my body. Immediately, my energy had gone through the roof. In addition, I was no longer having seizures. I went to all five of my doctors and got checked-out completely. They were dumbfounded when all the tests came back normal; even the hole in my heart was gone. I had been completely healed of two incurable illnesses, lupus and epilepsy. Furthermore, I was also free of alcohol and drug addiction; I quit cold turkey (the DT’s were horrific!). God answered my prayers; He not only took me Home, He healed me as well!
As a result, I had a new lease on life and felt compelled to share the light and love of God that had become an integral part of my new-found enlightenment. I understood that all life has a purpose and that we are all one with God and each other. I also wanted to help others who were grieving the loss of a loved one by teaching them how to stay connected with family and friends in spirit.
I began my spiritual counseling service in 2002 with nothing but a name and a business card. I called my non-profit business Gifts of Grace Ministry. I never had my own office space and met people in coffee shops, diners, bookstores, or their own homes. I traveled a lot because of my remote location in the countryside.
Shortly after starting my ministry, I began researching and writing about spirit communication for Catholics. I asked myself, “If we can talk to God and the saints in heaven, why can’t we talk to Grandma, or Mom, or Uncle Bob?” I landed on an obscure, but foundational Church doctrine that opened the door to the afterlife; it’s called “the communion of saints.” This teaching acknowledges and encourages the eternal relationships existing between members of the church who live in heaven and on earth, or between the living and the “dead.”
After ten years of research and writing, my book was finally published. I started landing speaking engagements around the country and teaching workshops. Several years ago I spent two weeks in Orange County, California to speak at the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS). My wonderful host, former IANDS Facilitator, Robin Barr (Cold Sores BeGone inventor), provided all my accommodations in her beautiful home in Mission Viejo.
While in the OC area, I also had the opportunity to attend Mass at St. Mathews Church in Orange, California. This is a sister church to the one I belong to in Rochester, New York, Spiritus Christi. I was excited to have lunch with Bishop Peter Hickman, along with a fellow parish member, from Rochester. Moreover, I had the chance to reconnect with my mother in heaven at San Juan Capistrano Mission. I lit a candle and walked the same grounds she visited many years earlier. Overall, I met many wonderful people and have nothing but fond memories of my magical time in Orange County. I knew Mom was with me on that trip and that she was instrumental in making it happen. Perhaps she had something to do with this magazine article as well!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
On the downside, after my near-death experience, I found myself living in two worlds; integration was a difficult, lengthy, and often depressing process. I preferred to spend most of my time in meditation, prayer and walks in nature to commune with Heaven. I was detached from my physical life and my spiritual life was my new reality. I spent more time talking to animals and spirits than I did with other people on earth. As a result, I became a mental basket case and I knew I needed help.
I decided to go to the one person I thought was trustworthy and who would understand; I went to my priest. I tried to explain to him about the visit from my deceased Mom and about my near-death experience. He accused me of practicing the occult and going against the teachings of the Catholic Faith; it was evil and I needed to find another church. In the end, banned from my own parish community; I was legally excommunicated —I was devastated.
I could not understand why it was so awful to talk with my mother after she “died”; she was a devout Catholic. I could not comprehend why it was OK to talk to God and the saints in heaven, but not my own Mom. We fear what we don’t know and don’t understand. It was clear to me that seminary school had not prepared ministers to deal with supernatural phenomena and paranormal parishioners. It was this lack of education and compassion however, that I would ultimately devote my life to correcting.
After several years of teaching, writing and spiritual counseling, I took a leap of faith and decided to quit my job as a counselor, activity director and administrator for a mental health program. I wanted to pursue my spiritual work and write my book full time. Losing the income from my job was a huge adjustment. To make matters worse, several years later, my husband, Bob was laid off from his job at Eastman Kodak. Although he was eligible for a pension, he lost his health care benefits and did not qualify for Obama Care or Medicare. The enormous cost of insurance has made it difficult to make ends meet.
Gifts of Grace Ministry – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a spiritual counselor, teacher, parapsychologist and author. I specialize in helping others who have had a paranormal, supernatural, mystical or near-death experience. It is very normal to have a paranormal experience. When ordinary people have an extraordinary event, it can change the course of their life and the way they perceive “reality”; this is what happened to me. For these reasons, I wrote my book, The Communion of Saints, Talking to God and Grandma, and started my non-profit organization, Gifts of Grace Ministry.
Just as important, I seek to teach other professionals, such as grief counselors, ministers, psychologists, spiritual directors, life coaches, as well as doctors, nurses, or anyone in the healing profession. Educated specialists will be able to better understand and provide much-needed compassion and help to a client or patient who has had a supernatural encounter. Too often, “experts” dismiss paranormal experiencers, diagnose them as psychotic, or label them as “evil.” In so doing, they further damage an already traumatized person in the same way I was.
I have a unique perspective on spirituality by bridging science and religion (particularly Catholicism). I integrate parapsychology with Christian Theology, mysticism and modern-day Spiritualism to provide transpersonal education through my workshops, lectures, book and personal counseling. Teaching people about the science of paranormal phenomena (parapsychology) aids in removing the stigma attached to psychic experiences and communication with loved ones in spirit. It also challenges the outdated teachings of many religions regarding the paranormal and those who participate in it.
In addition, my book was written as a useful tool for anyone doing research on paranormal phenomena in religion, the science of parapsychology, or the communion of saints. There is an extensive index and glossary in the back of the book on the hundreds of topics found within its pages. These include mysticism, divination, voices, visions, apparitions, mediumship, prayer, telepathy, ESP, after-death communication, psychic phenomena, spiritualism, as well as muggles (thanks to J.K. Rowling). There are many fascinating stories that serve as examples from the lives of the saints, as well as from priests, mediums and friends I interviewed. I promise readers they will find the book inspirational, educational and controversial.
The broader part of my mission is to share the light and love of our Creator, which I received in my near-death experience. I do this by teaching the importance of kindness, forgiveness, and our oneness with God and each other. Also, to emphasize the significance of all relationships, both in the physical and non-physical worlds, and to remind everyone that we are eternal beings that never “really” die.
I’m just a country girl who lives on a six-thousand, six-hundred-acre forest in what is known as The Little Finger Lakes area of Western, New York (south of Rochester). I was very surprised when asked to write for Voyage LA magazine and questioned my relevance. I was recommended by Samantha McKeon; I don’t know who she is, but I thank her immensely and hope she contacts me. No matter your location, The Communion of Saints, Talking to God and Grandma, is helpful to anyone who has lost a loved one; especially during holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. It’s available in hardcopy or e-book on Amazon; a link can be found on my website.
Although I live in another part of the country, I’m available for one-on-one counseling via phone or Skype (I am not a medium and don’t do readings). As a public speaker and inspirational teacher, I offer workshops and lectures for your conference, seminar, spiritual group, non-profit, or professional organization.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
To this day, I struggle to be a financial success because of my dual-citizenship. I still live in two worlds and spend most of my time in the spiritual realm. I prefer to be with my heavenly friends and animals. I’m socially challenged and like to keep to myself. For these reasons, I am not a good business person. I’m not attached to my phone and I don’t do Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any form of social media to get publicity.
Therefore, my book was not a best-seller, I did not become a nationally known spiritual teacher, and I spent way more money than I made. In short, my ministry has been a financial disaster. From an earthly viewpoint, I actually feel like a failure. At the same time, I don’t feel stressed- out and live a very peaceful life. Besides, I still have hopes of being one of those authors that become accomplished, long after they’re dead. Perhaps I have sown some seeds of a future that is not my own.
On the other hand, you can’t measure spiritual riches with a worldly yardstick. Success can be determined by the extent on which you change lives for the better, whether they are humans or animals. I have had several individuals tell me that after hearing my story or reading my book, they changed their minds about committing suicide. I think those people would consider that an achievement; especially if they went on to make a difference for others.
Despite the lack of monetary success, I count my blessings every day and thank God for food to eat, a roof over my head, and a warm bed to sleep in. I owe my creature comforts to my wonderfully kind and supportive husband, Bob of forty years. We share our home with our two cats, Mimi and Willy. We have raised myriad fur babies over the years and have many close friends and family. Perhaps my life, in general, is a success story. One thing I do know, no matter what challenges life brings, we never really die, and everything is going to be all right.
- Personal counseling: $30.00 per hour.
- Website: www.giftsofgraceministry.org
- Phone: 585-766-9318
- Email: email@example.com